It’s called the Humvee, so what does HMMWV mean? High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle. The military Humvees were produced by AM General to be the next go anywhere yet fit weight and size constraints for getting the vehicle to the battlefield.
Competition for AM General (a subsidiary of American Motors Corporation) was tough. Starting in 1979, 61 companies showed interest but only 3 submitted prototypes. The other two prototypes came from Chrysler Defense and Teledyne Continental.
The original M998 A0 series had a curb weight of 5,200 lbs. with a payload of 2,500 lbs. and was powered by a 6.2L (380 cu in) V-8 diesel engine with a three-speed automatic transmission.
The three companies were chosen to design and build eleven HMMWV prototypes, which covered over 600,000 miles in trials which included off-road courses in desert and arctic conditions. AM General was awarded an initial contract in 1983 for 2,334 vehicles, the first batch of a five-year contract that would see 55,000 vehicles delivered to the U.S. military, including 39,000 for the Army; 72,000 vehicles had been delivered to U.S. and foreign customers by the 1991 Gulf War, and 100,000 were delivered by the Humvee’s 10th anniversary in 1995.
The basic HMMWV has no armor or protection against chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear threats. Nevertheless, losses were relatively low in conventional operations, such as the Gulf War. Vehicles and crews suffered considerable damage and losses during theBattle of Mogadishu due to the nature of the urban engagement; however, the chassis survivability allowed the majority of those crews to return to safety, though the HMMWV was never designed to offer protection against intense small arms fire, much less machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. However, with the rise of asymmetric warfare and low intensity conflicts, the HMMWV was pressed into service in urban combat roles for which it was not originally intended.
After Somalia, the military recognized a need for a more protected HMMWV and AM General developed the M1114, an armored HMMWV to withstand small arms fire. The M1114 has been in limited production since 1996, seeing limited use in the Balkans before deployment to theMiddle East. This design is superior to the M998 with a larger, more powerful turbocharged engine, air conditioning, and a strengthened-suspension system. More importantly, it boasts a fully armored passenger area protected by hardened steel and bullet-resistant glass. With the increase in direct attacks and guerrilla warfare in Iraq, AM General diverted the majority of its manufacturing power to producing these vehicles.
With the onset of the second Iraq War, Humvees proved very vulnerable to IEDs; in the first four months of 2006, 67 U.S. troops died in Humvees. To increase protection, the U.S. military hastily added-on armor kits to the vehicles. Although this somewhat improved survivability, bolting on armor made the Humvee an “ungainly beast,” increasing weight and putting strain on the chassis, which lead to unreliability. Armored doors that weighed hundreds of pounds were difficult for troops to open and the newly armored turret made Humvees top heavy and increased the danger of rollovers. The U.S. Marine Corps decided to start replacing Humvees in combat with MRAPs in 2007, and the U.S. Army stated that the vehicle was “no longer feasible for combat” in 2012.
That all being said, the HMMWV is an iconic vehicle. During the first Iraq War, we will always remember Abrams tanks and Humvees.